All of them — including ones that ended up on Best of 2015 lists — were records we felt needed an extra bump. Read about the albums you might have missed or underestimated this year below, in alphabetical order.
To find more of Exclaim!'s year-end writing, head to our 2015 in Lists section.
Top 10 Underrated Records:
Car Seat Headrest
Teens of Style
Plucked from the annals of Bandcamp, this debut studio effort features some of the best tracks from Will Toledo's first 11 albums re-recorded with a full band. Combining jangly guitar hooks, distorted vocals and lyrics that could easily double as a suburban youth's Tumblr posts, Teens of Style successfully translates Toledo's lo-fi works into bona fide power-pop gems without forgetting their roots.
After the success of Empress Of's instrumental YouTube "color minutes," singer/producer Lorely Rodriguez released her more personal, powerfully honest debut album, Me, in 2015, addressing issues of sexism, class privilege and self-love across 10 snappy, dance floor-ready songs that deserved more thorough listening this year.
Inspired by the passing of his Indian grandmother and crafted (in part) out of a sample selected from one of the many records Kieran Hebden (a.k.a. Four Tet) inherited from her, Morning/Evening may not be an immediate favourite for those who favour his jazzier side, but it's his most deeply meaningful and beatific effort yet.
Straddling the line between modern and traditional, French-Cuban twins Ibeyi humbly blend Yoruba chants, Peruvian cajón, exquisite vocals and electronic blasts to create a sound absolutely their own. Between Naomi's boom-clap-snap beat making and Lisa-Kaindé's haunting lead vocals, the Díaz sisters created a simple yet strikingly beautiful album that captivated those lucky enough to hear it.
Into Her Future
Smokey-voiced Crash Vegas singer Michelle McAdorey returned after a 12-year hiatus with a kick-ass psychedelic and poppy folk-rock album (inspired in part by British Isles folk) recorded painstakingly with Greg Keelor at his Lost Cause studio near Peterborough, ON. Her voice is as strong as ever, and these are tunes for our times.